I had goose pimples immediately I found out. Google reads my mails. And is most likely reading yours too.
When the address and subject field were filled, I hit the send button and my compose window gave me the rudest shock I have ever received on the internet.
It returned a dialogue box – the type that wouldn’t let you do anything until you attend to it – asking, “did you mean to attach files?”
“You wrote “is attached” in your message, but there are no files attached. Send anyway?” the dialogue box informed me.
That’s really smart but creepy I thought.
The mail I was sending contained the phrase “is attached” in the body and Google had read it. But I did not attach a file to the mail and the ‘smart’ composer was reminding me that before I send my mail.
Wow! Really? Am I still safe here?
Is Google reading my mails?
This is how Google answered that question in its privacy section.
“No, but automatic scanning and filtering technology is at the heart of Gmail. Gmail scans and processes all messages using fully automated systems in order to do useful and innovative stuff like filter spam, detect viruses and malware, show relevant ads, and develop and deliver new features across your Google experience. Priority Inbox, spell checking, forwarding, auto-responding, automatic saving and sorting, and converting URLs to clickable links are just a few of the many features that use this kind of automatic processing.”
Google’s response does not include that it will watch out for certain suggestive phrases and control your next actions.
That Google uses certain algorithms to collect information about you and accurately predict you “to sell precisely targeted ads” is not new. Its a creepy third-eye we now live with on the internet. But I expect more privacy with my mail.
Google’s mail reading and action control techniques suggests a bleak future for privacy and freedom on the internet.
Some months back, in April precisely, I was with a few friends on a site visit to Google’s office in Hamburg, Germany. They confirmed to us that governments make requests to Google for identity of some email users. And Google, as a business, granted ‘some’ requests.
This suggests that a government with major influence on Google can arm twist it to provide details of your mails, behind you.
With the growing ubiquity of Google, someday, in some countries, you may not be able to send emails containing certain phrases.
That’s how bad it can get.